Heather Frigiola is an independent cultural anthropologist whose research focuses on the role of animals within human culture. Her talk, “Dogs and Dog People vs. Cats and Cat People,” is a continuation of her Master’s thesis research from Purdue University. She believes that it is essential for all persons working with animals to be mindful of the relevant cultural and historical context of interspecies relationships, and its social implications. As a graduate student, Heather studied under Alan Beck, who is one of the founding fathers of Human-Animal Studies, or Anthrozoology. She hopes to encourage other cultural anthropologists to contribute to this field.
Heather worked at Purdue University as a lecturer for an Honors course titled “The Roles of Animals in Societies Around the World,” later renamed “Animals in Global Cultures.” She was sought by a senior faculty member at Purdue’s Animal Sciences department to lend her anthropological knowledge to the class, which is aimed at teaching multicultural awareness to Animal Sciences students. She contributed to the curriculum design of the course in addition to providing lectures and reading materials. Heather has also given formal presentations on various topics such as domestication theory, feline behavior, the anthropomorphization of animals, and the relationship between pet-keeping and personal identity.
Passionate about both education and animals, Heather has volunteered as a tour guide at Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Indiana. She also spent many years volunteering at a nature center in Northern Virginia. Her profile photo shows Hunter the gray fox at Wolf Park. Heather’s thesis and some of her other writings can be downloaded for free at the HABRI Central Library, https://habricentral.org/members/1287/contributions